I love waterfowl, whether ducks or geese. I like my chickens a lot, but I like waterfowl even more.
They are endearing in a clumsy sort of way. They take such pleasure in life. I didn't keep them for eggs, although I did hope that they would hatch some babies. That's been more difficult than you'd think. The female goose didn't start laying eggs until after her mate died, so they weren't fertile. Most of my ducks have been males.
My current waterfowl are a pair of Muscovy ducks. Muscovies are great bug control, they love mosquitoes and ticks, but I haven't let them free range because of our predator situation; last year they were confined to the empty chicken coop. I was ecstatic when the female laid her first clutch of eggs, then her second, and then her third. Unfortunately only two of those 53 eggs hatched. One duckling died right away; the other lived a month and died.
Mama brought her little babies out of the coop and down the ramp the next day. She couldn't teach them how to go back up the ramp in the evening though. I had to catch the babies and put them up in the coop with her. I usually leave the little pop door open but I closed it for the night so they couldn't escape before morning.
I had to repeat that exercise every evening, catching the little babies and moving them to the coop for her. Mama never did appreciate my doing so, I was pecked severely several times. Every evening I considered taking her babies and adding them to the brooder with the ones that hatched in the incubator, but I let her keep them.
Five days later, they were both dead. Perhaps they were trampled by the adults' big webbed feet. In the future I'll take her babies away and raise them myself.
I would really wonder if something's wrong with all those little babies, but the four-week-old incubator ducklings are doing just fine so far. They're growing like weeds and are beginning to grow feathers. They remind me of silly little penguins with their big feet and tiny little wings, so out of proportion.
They are fun and entertaining, but the babies will be going to a new home soon. The money they bring will buy a few more bags of chicken and duck feed.
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